UK giant Paddy Power has taken the hit from the UKGC enforcement system for nearly half a million pounds.
The total fine for the Flutter-owned company operating under the PPB Counterparty Services Limited brand is £490,000 (US$603,000) as a penalty for sending notifications to excluded consumers.
The penalties were handed down due to evidence of infractions dating to November 2021. In the inquiry, the UKGC discovered that the Paddy Power app had sent promotional communications to English Premiere League fans who had previously self-excluded themselves via GAMSTOP or Flutter’s self-exclusion program.
Though the number of penalisable communications remains unreleased, it is projected to be a significant amount proportional to the large size of the fine. The infraction has been acknowledged, and Flutter has accepted the fine without contest.
The UK’s Gambling Act requires all operators to take necessary and appropriate measures to be responsible for avoiding sending communications to players who have self-excluded for obvious reasons. Self-exclusion refers to opting out of further information regarding gambling products. The challenge has arisen for operators to keep track of all those who have self-excluded the site or through other services such as Gamstop, which was made available in the UK as a national self-exclusion mechanism.
Pioneering Operator Fined
Fine recipient Flutter was one of the earliest operators to implement a social responsibility program in-house, starting with a self-exclusion program and mechanism.
The UKGC Guidelines
The UKGC guidelines make operators responsible for receiving a complete and current opt-out list with all the most recent persons who have added themselves to the self-exclusion program. The operators are then responsible for erasing the self-excluded customer’s name, contact information, and related information within two days of receiving the updated self-exclusion list.
Minimal Harm, Yet…
The regulator acknowledged that notifications were not sent intentionally, and no users placed bets as a result. Further, the regulator said many users did not likely see the messages, nor did anyone lodge a complaint with the UKGC.
UKGC Fines to Date
Even with all this said, the UKGC chose to levy the hefty fine, bringing total fines collected in 2023 to £50,721,772 (US$62.65 million) in fines. This projects for the year to be less than last year’s total of £218.21 million ($269.53 million) but is more than the $48.6 million collected in 2021.
The fines show that operators must go beyond intention and remain fully compliant to avoid large fines that could otherwise harm their customers.